BOOK DETAILS

Xenogeneic: First Contact

Xenogeneic: First Contact

by Lance Erlick

ASIN: B01N5Y82JY

Publisher Finlee Augare Books

Published in Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

Aerospace engineer Elena Pyetrov travels into space to continue her father’s research. Her ship crashes.

Within caves on an alien world, the Knoonk execute their plan to genetically adapt to Earth and displace humans.

Kidnapped to the closed cave system, Elena finds other humans subjected to Knoonk experiments. There can be no compromise. It is winner take all. With time running out, Elena must dig deep to uncover the alien plan and stop them before humans face extinction.

Sample Chapter

Dr. Elena Sweetwater Pyetrov studied the launch area below her in stunned silence as uniformed officers burst onto the scene, followed by dozens of men and women in camouflage gear carrying assault rifles. It looked like a stunt for a Hollywood movie about space invaders.

Members of her ground team scrambled in response to the unannounced intrusion. It brought back memories of anti-space opposition two decades earlier to her father’s mission to Jupiter. That ended with his disappearance and a presumed crash into the Jovian planet.

Beyond the bulletproof glass of the observation deck, a Navy Seal chopper buzzed the launch pad. The Moon shuttle was being prepared for tomorrow’s take-off to reunite Elena with her crew on the Moon base. In the distance, the Atlantic was calm and skies were clear for her launch.

Elena picked up her cell phone to call her benefactor, Mason Crenshaw Devereaux, the billionaire owner of MCD Enterprises that was financing her expedition. Static filled the line. Damn.

She used binoculars to watch her ground crew as two uniformed officers approached them. One of her assistants shifted anxiously with an armful of last-minute test equipment for the mission. A second checked an electronic pad and shook her head. Two members of her ground crew made it to the safety of a hangar with camouflage soldiers in pursuit.

This can’t be happening, Elena thought, not when I’m this close.

Government delays had already put her behind schedule. She had a narrow window to initiate her six-month journey aboard a brand new, privately funded MCD spacecraft already stationed on the Moon base. After years of preparation, she was finally heading to the Jovian moon Europa, part of her dream to continue her father’s work.

Someone pounded on the control tower’s door. A commanding female voice called out, “Doctor Pyetrov?”

Elena opened the door to a slender Federal agent who forced a smile as she stepped into the control room, followed by two beefy marines who collided on their way in.

“What’s the meaning of this?” Elena asked. “We’ve been cleared—”

“There’s been a development,” the agent said, straightening up. She compared an image of Elena on her cell phone to the person before her and nodded. “You’re wanted in Washington.”

“I was told—”

“My orders are to bring you, in cuffs if necessary.”

Elena looked at the two beefy men. Backing up, she saw all of her ground crew down below, surrounded by camouflaged soldiers.

“The sooner you come with us, the sooner this can be cleared up,” the agent said. “Let’s go.”

“Can I at least speak with my team?” Elena held up her cell phone, which showed no signal.

“That won’t be necessary,” the agent said. “They’ve already been told. You’re wasting time.”

Not seeing any alternative, Elena chose the non-handcuffed approach. Again, she tried to phone her benefactor. When that provided nothing more than electronic static, she grabbed her briefcase, followed the agent and her marines to the roof of the observation deck, and climbed into a sleek, new helicopter.

“Are you jamming my signal?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t know,” the agent said. “Buckle up.”

Without waiting for Elena to do so, the agent lifted the chopper and sped north, throwing Elena back in her seat at what she figured to be 3g, zero-to-sixty in one second.

She fastened her belt. “Now that I’m cooperating, can you tell me where we’re going and what this is all about?”

“My orders were to deliver you to a congressional committee,” the agent said. “That’s all I know.”

>===>

They landed on the new helipad above the senate offices. The agent and marines led Elena into a congressional meeting room and to a seat at the focal point of a semicircular table. It wasn’t her first time in this chamber. The last visit hadn’t gone well. On that occasion, Devereaux had intervened. This time she couldn’t reach him.

Elena scanned the annoyed faces of the six women and five men on the Special Committee Responsible for Alien Programs. She’d encountered them all before. Evidently, they’d cut short their summer break to haul her in, either to stall or cancel her privately funded mission. She needed the government shuttle to reach her ship at the government-run lunar base.

She sat, clutching a thin briefcase in her lap. When her eyes met the glance of Chairwoman Senator Christabelle Jorgensen, chills ran up and down her spine. The senator despised anything having to do with space. She’d made that clear during her campaign and during their prior encounter.

Jorgensen raised her hand, and the room fell silent. “After long deliberations, we cannot allow your mission to launch.” She sounded annoyed.

All eyes focused on Elena. She felt the heat of their attention, as well as the intense lights aimed her way. “Distinguished senators and representatives…” she began.

“Cut the formalities,” Senator Jorgensen cut in. “We’ve been sending missions and messages into space for decades. None of it has improved the lives of desperate people here on Earth.” One of Jorgensen’s acts upon entering the Senate was shutting down the SETI project and its search for intelligent signals from space.

Folding her hands on the table, Elena raised her voice a notch. “Just because we don’t know what we’ll find doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore. Columbus sought a trade route to India and opened up the Americas. Nicholas Navarov found water and key elements on the Moon that will allow self-sustaining colonies to ease overcrowding on Earth.”

Jorgensen smiled for the hidden cameras. “Really? Your plan is to move billions of people to the inhospitable environment of the Moon?”

“We could colonize Mars.”

The senator slammed a gavel on her table. “People want to live better here on Earth. We will no longer waste valuable resources on space exploration.”

Elena took a deep breath. “Dr. Alexander Pyetrov—”

“The Committee knows your father’s failures, Ms. Pyetrov. If he hadn’t pursued his folly to Jupiter, you wouldn’t have stood over his empty casket.”

“He gave his life to further knowledge.” On this matter, Elena had mixed feelings. When her father missed her sixteenth birthday for his mission, she’d cursed him to a fate worse than death. With his many absences, it had been one disappointment too many. Even so, at his funeral, she’d vowed to fulfill his vision.

She studied the six attractive young women dressed in identical gray nanofab jackets, sky-blue blouses, and navy skirts. They’d swept into office in the last election, championing the plight of women and children saddled with global crop failures. While Elena empathized, she didn’t believe short-term needs should cancel long-term research.

Senator Jorgensen’s cat-like eyes sliced into Elena. “We would be better served if you continued your efforts with the Women and Children’s Taskforce.”

Elena glanced at four men seated to her left, members of the Evangelical Ministry on Alien Mythologies. They leaned back in their seats, arms crossed, with scowls on their faces, content to let Jorgensen take the lead. A wrinkled clerk at the far right made sure recordings picked up everything Elena said—no doubt to use against her later. She sighed. “While that work is vital, I believe this mission can improve humanity’s future.”

“Isn’t it true you expect to find alien life on your mission?”

Elena’s throat tightened. She did hope to discover new species in space. Perhaps they’d be as bizarre as worms near submerged thermal vents on Earth, although so far, robotic space probes had been disappointing. “Learning about new resources will benefit everyone, and all of the financial risk is borne by—”

“I’ve read your report,” Jorgensen said. “And not all the risk is private. Your sponsor requires use of our lunar base and our shuttle.”

“For which he paid.”

“Nevertheless. Sometimes science wanders into places that do more harm than good, like the atomic bomb. Wouldn’t you agree?”

“Fire can keep us warm or burn down homes.”

“Why pursue microbes while billions of people on Earth are starving?” Jorgensen asked.

With the exception of New Mexico Senator Emanuel Montrose to her right, everyone at the table deferred to Jorgensen. In private, Montrose had been sympathetic. Now he shrank into his seat as if Jorgensen had power over him.

“Exploration has made important contributions to understanding our solar system,” Elena said. “Who knows? We might find microbes to help balance our food needs.”

“People don’t want to eat germs.”

“If we don’t explore,” Elena said, trying a different tack, “whatever is out there could catch us unaware. Before Columbus, the Chinese discovered the Americas. Then their emperor died and his successor turned inward, which allowed the Europeans to dominate.”

“I’m astonished that you champion Columbus, given what Europeans did to your Navajo ancestors.”

That stung. Elena wished she knew more about that part of her heritage. “I’m aware of the exploitation of Native-Americans, but if Columbus hadn’t explored, I wouldn’t be here.”

Several members of the panel broke out laughing. When Jorgensen remained somber, the room fell silent.

“Our primary concern is how alien mythologies contaminate young minds,” Jorgensen said. “Isn’t it true that while promoting this mission, you encouraged speculation about alien life?”

Elena measured her words. “My focus was on funding and approval.”

Jorgensen paused to look at her notes. “Do you believe aliens brought life to Earth?”

“I believe in God,” Elena said, just not a god who denies the existence of alien life.

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“I don’t know. Do you?” Elena felt like a prop to political campaigning. “With all due respect, Senator, our future depends on exploration.”

Jorgensen waved her hand in dismissal. “Leave us.”

Holding her head high, Elena grabbed her thin briefcase, marched out of the stuffy chamber, and headed straight for the restroom.

In the mirror, she stared into a weary face with dark eyes. Lines creased her bronzed forehead. She spotted another gray nestled among her obsidian-black hair. Each visit to Washington seemed to add more. Although men said she was attractive, she looked older than her thirty-four years, thanks to the frustrations of butting heads with bureaucrats.

Elena felt exhausted from her preparations and this latest distraction. This committee could have halted her mission at any point. Why now?

Gritting herself into control, she clutched an ornamental platinum comb her father gave her before his last mission, and pushed back her short-cropped hair.

>===>

Elena paced outside the committee chambers, longing for time in space, away from vicious politics and other people’s expectations. Even her on-and-off-again fiancé, Captain Marc Carlisle, a marine pilot, held expectations. He had repeatedly pressured her to include him on her mission. She only had room for her handpicked crew. Besides, Elena was convinced they wouldn’t survive together in such tight quarters. Their strained goodbye the night before had left a sour taste in her mouth. She couldn’t permit entanglements to hold her back.

Chamber doors swung open. Senator Jorgensen emerged, her face betraying no emotion. The senator offered her hand and squeezed Elena’s in a firm grip.

Jorgensen’s mouth drew into a tight line. “This mission is a waste of resources. You know that.”

The senator’s vacant eyes gave Elena chills. “With all due respect, our future lies out there.”

“Are you prepared for whatever sacrifices this mission calls for?”

Elena’s throat went dry. Suddenly, Jorgensen seemed willing to let the mission continue after all. The senator led Elena into a room across from the committee’s chambers and closed the door. She left the lights off, no doubt to avoid cameras. The darkness made it harder to ignore the senator’s pungent perfume.

Elena recalled a previous encounter with this scent. About a year ago, a colleague pressured her to join the secret professional group Sisterhood of the Nile. Membership bound her to their code. Only later did she realize what she’d agreed to: a commitment to the Women and Children’s Taskforce that, while worthy, distracted from her mission.

Withdrawing into the darkness, Elena forced a deep breath and nearly choked. “What changed your mind?”

“Your single-minded determination.” The senator took Elena’s hand.

Confused, Elena pulled away and bumped into a table. She straightened up. “I’m committed.”

“One condition. Your mission is limited in scope. You’ll report all findings directly to me and no one else. Is that clear?”

Elena pressed against the table. “This is a scientific mission.”

“And a commercial one.”

“My sponsors won’t—”

“Then consider yourself grounded.”

“Senator, any commercially viable materials we find would benefit—”

Jorgensen grabbed Elena in the secret arm grip of the Sisterhood. That explains the dark room. The group’s support might explain the senator’s rapid rise in politics and the solidarity of the five women who rose with her and sat on the Committee.

Was this a charade intended to get Elena to agree to conditions? Well, sponsors were one thing. Elena had her own reasons for going into space.

She swallowed hard. The Sisterhood’s code obligated Elena to a senior member like Jorgensen. “I accept.”

The senator moved away. “Go before we reconsider.”

>===>

A space cruiser glided high above the Earth, monitoring events unfolding in the American capital and at a Florida launch pad. Standing before the wide screen in the command center, General Nurock Gorg tightened her well-toned stomach muscles and stifled her disgust at the pale human form Supreme Commander Viv had taken.

The general looked away from the screen before her contempt for non-gray complexions and smooth foreheads twisted her forehead ridge-crest; to snub her supreme leader would be suicide and Gorg had a score to settle. The attempts to ground the human space mission had failed, opening up opportunities for her. She smiled, hoping that would soften her image for the supreme commander, and returned her attention to the screen.

“We cannot risk exposure,” Viv said in human-accented Knoonk language over the secure com-link. She adjusted her camera, which then showed behind her the brightly colored office in Viv’s Washington home. The vivid colors stabbed at Gorg’s eyes, an unfortunate byproduct of inbreeding among a too-small surviving population. Overuse of color was a human obsession that the Supreme Commander had acquired as part of her genetic transformation to human form.

Gorg adjusted the command ship’s controls so the craft would appear to float as satellite debris to the humans’ feeble sensors. She glanced at her immediate superior, Commander Jinek Zurbiz, whose bloated figure filled the captain’s chair. Zurbiz was the only person between her and the supreme commander, a position Gorg coveted.

Zurbiz’s ineptitude had condemned General Gorg’s sister to die on Earth during a routine recon mission. When Colonel Dwentok Gorg was wounded and couldn’t reach the extraction point, Commander Zurbiz refused to risk a rescue mission that could have saved the colonel’s essence. In fact, to avoid letting humans capture the fallen soldier, Zurbiz had ordered her body remotely incinerated. Now there could be no ritual resurrection, no chance for life to continue in a new body. In her mind, Gorg spat at the flabby target Zurbiz made. You’re a disgrace to our people.

Seated next to Zurbiz was little Nalon, the faithful sycophant. You picked the wrong master, Gorg thought.

“I share your disappointment,” Supreme Commander Viv told Gorg. “I also grieve for your sister, a great Knoonk warrior.” She paused, leaving only background hum for a moment of remembrance.

Then she turned her human face to Commander Zurbiz. “Where do we stand on finding the Royal Couple?”

Zurbiz bowed with her ridge-crest at attention across her forehead. “We have many leads to catch the traitors.”

“You should have caught them by now,” Viv said.

Gorg suppressed a grin. It was another failure by her incompetent boss and another step closer to Gorg replacing Zurbiz. If the commander hadn’t been so timid … well, Gorg would handle things differently.

In fact, General Gorg would have caught the Royal Couple twelve years ago, when the remnant of her Knoonk rebels overpowered the outposts in this solar system. Zurbiz’s hesitation allowed the Royal Couple to complete their transformation to human form and escape to Earth to hide among the inferior species. Despite Zurbiz’s bungling, Supreme Commander Viv chose her over Gorg to command the outpost.

“I suggest General Gorg take this assignment,” Supreme Commander Viv said.

The general bowed. She relished the opportunity to exact revenge against humans for the permanent loss of her sister. As a bonus, she would get to upstage Zurbiz.

Commander Zurbiz changed the subject. “We are resurrecting our fallen comrades as quickly as we can.”

Yeah, Gorg thought, the lucky ones killed in our failed rebellion. The survivors preserved and transported their essences to this outpost at the edge of the galaxy. They were receiving the ritual resurrection denied to Gorg’s sister. Never again would she stand side by side with her kin as Knoonk warriors.

“Not fast enough,” Viv said. “Humans are sending another manned probe. Use it to our advantage.”

Continues...

Excerpted from "Xenogeneic: First Contact" by Lance Erlick. Copyright © 2017 by Lance Erlick. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Lance Erlick

Lance Erlick

Lance Erlick writes science fiction thrillers for young adult and adult readers. He is the author of The Rebel Within, The Rebel Trap, and Rebels Divided, three books in the Rebel series. In those stories, he explores the consequences of Annabelle Scott following her conscience. He authored the Regina Shen series—Regina Shen: Resilience, Regina Shen: Vigilance, Regina Shen: Defiance, and Regina Shen: Endurance. This series takes place after abrupt climate change leads to the Great Collapse and a new society under the World Federation. His latest novel is Xenogeneic: First Contact about encounters with an alien race aiming to take over Earth.

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